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All Power To The ACC Bikoi Protest!

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Contributor:
Chris Ford
Chris Ford
ACC protest. Pic: NZPA

Today's bikoi protest on the forecourt of Parliament was a success. Nick Smith's decision to review the levy increases is a welcome sign that democratic protest does work.

The demonstration, involving up to 5000 motorbike enthusiasts, was the largest since the foreshore and seabed hikoi.  It was also the most significant protest against the renewed New Right assault on the Accident Compensation Corporation. This success follows that achieved by sexual abuse survivors who have forced the government to keep ACC funding changes in that area under review as well.

To have National react in this way is not unprecedented. Government backdowns on controversial issues have been a time honoured political tradition. For example, the Fifth Labour Government scrapped the so-called 'fart tax' (or agricultural emissions research levy) after rural sector protests. Under the Fourth National Government, widespread public discontent with public hospital and health service user-charges saw them terminated after only six months in 1991.

While firm decisions have yet to be reached, it appears that National through its decision to 'review' the increases on bike owners is looking for an easy way out. Probably its internal polling is telling it that while the party remains popular, the ACC issue is a sleeping giant that could still awaken and ruin the government's long honeymoon. John Key and his government are wanting to retain their popularity with the electorate for as long as possible. And if one group is going to ruin it, it could be the bikies who have come from across the political and class spectrum to oppose the ACC changes.

This protest should also serve as an example to other impacted groups. Long term ACC claimants should look to taking on the government too and eliciting public support for their case along the way. Besides casual and temporary workers should look at joining forces too. 

Moreover, what needs to happen now is for the various anti-ACC change pressure groups to come together and protest. In fact, the numbers are there for a protest that could rival or even top the foreshore and seabed hikoi. Just add 5000 bikies, a few thousand long term claimants and about approximately a thousand workers and, voila, an 8,000-10,000 person demonstration outside Parliament could result.

Just imagine it.

In fact, TV One News reported tonight that the noise from the demonstration could be heard on the Beehive's ninth floor. The ninth floor is where one John Key works from. Now, just double the number of voices and any future demonstration could be heard right across Wellington and possibly temporarily deafen the occupant of that floor.

The bikoi organisers have already warned that they will be back on Parliament's front steps should the increases be pushed through. I am in doubt that they will be as good as their word.

That's why I say all power to the ACC bikoi protesters!

 

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